Aristotle

The Four Causes

The four causes are the material, formal, efficient and final causes.

Material cause – This is what the thing is made from, eg wood or metal.

Formal cause – This is what the thing is. All things come in a raw state, like a block of wax or iron and then worked into a particular form such as a candle or a nail.

Efficient cause – The agent that brings a thing about, which moves the thing from a potential state to the actual state.

Final cause – This is the telos or the purpose of the thing.

The Prime Mover

By definition, the prime mover must have certain characteristics: pure actuality, simplicity and goodness.

Aristotle argues that the world must have been moved from being pure matter to the actuality of what it is. In order for this to happen, it must have been moved by some sort of Prime Mover.

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